August is recognized as National Immunizations Month (NIAM). This awareness month highlights the need for improving national immunization coverage levels and encourages all people to protect their health by being immunized against infectious diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does support and encourage the efforts of state and local health departments and other immunization partners to celebrate NIAM and use this month to promote back-to-school immunizations, remind college students to catch up immunizations before they move into dorms, and remind everyone that the influenza season is only a few months away. It’s a great reminder to our nation that people of all ages require timely immunization to protect their health.
Why are childhood vaccines so important?
- It’s true that newborn babies are immune to many diseases because they have antibodies they got from their mothers. However, the duration of the immunity may last only a month to about a year. Further, young children do not have maternal immunity against some vaccine-preventable diseases, such as whooping cough.
- If a child is vaccinated and is exposed to a disease germ, the child’s body may not be strong enough to fight the disease. Before vaccines, many children died from diseases that vaccines now prevent, such as whooping cough, measles, and polio. Those same germs exist today, but babies are now protected by vaccines, so we do not see these diseases as often.
- Immunizing individual children also helps to protect the health of our community, especially those people who are not immunized. People who are not immunized include those who are too young to be vaccinated (e.g., children less than a year old cannot receive the measles vaccine but can be infected by the virus), those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons (e.g., children with leukemia), and those who cannot make an adequate response to vaccination. Also protected, therefore, are people who receive a vaccine, but who have not developed an immunity.
Immunization also slows down or stops disease outbreaks.
For more information on vaccinations, please visit www.cdc.gov.